A show such as ESPN’s “First Take” only exists because two people divert into opposite poles of an argument. Sometimes it becomes so ridiculous it’s easiest to simply walk off.
So host Molly Qerim did, exiting the camera frame in the middle of a segment about Kobe Bryant on Tuesday and shouting “Goodbye!” as Max Kellerman continued his argument.
Kellerman and Ryan Clark were discussing the “All-Decade” team NBA.com published Monday for the 2010s. The first team seems fairly unarguable, with Stephen Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
It was the third team that took criticism, the one that even NBA.com described as “a talented unit comprised of the old, new and in between.” It includes Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, both future Hall of Famers who ended their long careers in the decade.
Clark argued that Bryant should be higher in the rankings, which meant Kellerman had to take the opposite pole. And he ran with it, alleging Bryant shouldn’t even be on any team and instead deserves “All-NBA worst team.”
“If you had to put him on any team, because he can’t be like All-NBA best team, what team would he be on?” Clark asked
“He’d be on the All-NBA worst team, actually,” Kellerman said.
Game over for Molly. Qerim immediately stood up from her chair with an “Oh my God, you’re kidding,” and left the set with a loud, “Goodbye.”
There’s no doubt Bryant wasn’t in the 2010s what he was in the 2000s, but putting him on a “worst team” is far from fair. He started the decade with a Finals MVP and earned four consecutive all-NBA selections before injuries led up to his retirement.
Kellerman’s point is that people are only looking at statistics when they place Bryant in the best of the decade. Bryant’s average of 28.4 points per game in the 2000s dropped to 22.3 from 2000-2016, which is still a good clip. Take out the six-game 2013-14 season (13.8 ppg) and he averaged closer to 24.1 points.
It’s an OK point to make. Being the best isn’t all numbers, though stats still help win ball games and pad Hall of Fame careers. But taking it all the way to the other end is steps too far.
It’s absurd to put arguably the GOAT in a statistical worst list of any sort. Or else he wouldn’t be in a GOAT conversation. Keep walking, Molly.
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